Monday, March 2, 2009

Vichyssoise sans Pomme de Terre

That's about the extent of my French language skills and that's with help from the dreaded babelfish. My passion for French cooking however seems to be growing.

While making something from The Silver Spoon Cookbook which has recipes that are much less complex and picky than what I started out with I was actually disappointed at the lack of specific instructions. All I had to work with was statements like “put the celery, leeks and potatoes in a pan.” But what size should the leek pieces be, should I cut them on the bias, what size pan, should the measuring cup I use for the cream be metal or glass? They weren't giving me much to work with. I had actually gotten used to finicky Boulud instructions. I was having fussy French cooking withdrawal!

Worse when I went to make a salad to go with the meal I instinctively grabbed a carrot to add to the spinach. Instead of chopping it or grating it which a week ago would have been my first thought I was using the peeler to make ribbons in the salad without even thinking about it. The only thing that gave away my usual behavior was the fella's face.

“What are you doing?” I looked around to see if I had started something on the stove on fire until I looked down and saw the carrot ribbons. Gasping slightly I gazed upon the beautiful carrots on top of the salad and had to laugh at myself. It's only been a week and I'm a slave to French techniques.

“I didn't mean to.” This I said as if I had run over someone's cat. I really couldn't believe without any conscious effort on my part I was doing something the more difficult and presentation minded way.

“Oh my god you miss Boulud don't you?” There was no hiding it I had to shake my head sheepishly and fess up. “That's so hot you cooking nerd.”

I hope he still thinks so a couple months from now after the millionth load of butter caked dishes. It's been an adjustment for us with him washing every night and me cooking where as for the last two years we've switched back and forth every other night. Look at him scrubbing away and silently cursing me.

Lucky for him the Vichyssoise was pretty light on the dishes. And almost embarrassingly easy to make for tasting so good. The only change I had to make was switching sweet potatoes in for the carb heavy absolutely forbidden potatoes. Yams have a GI of 60 which isn't great but is way better than the 95 of a cooked spud. They also gave the soup a sinful added sweetness. Heathens that we are we even ate it warm so I'm not a total convert to Frenchness.

The soup was about as photogenic as turnip baby food so I'm going to spare the world that. However look at the delicious Vouvray the fella picked up at Whole Foods entirely on his own without any prompting. He's pretty amazing. Look at him quickly becoming a wine expert.

It went perfectly with the big creamy tongue-coating soup. The body was super light with bright subtle fruit that worked as a wonderful palate cleanser, making every spoonful of Vichyssoise more and more delightful. Alone I think this particular Vouvray would have been too light to make an impression, but with dinner it was pleasant.


2 large stalks celery, chopped coarsely
2 leeks, white part only, chopped coarsely
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
4 cups chicken stock
1 scant cup heavy cream

Put celery, leeks and sweet potatoes into soup pot. Pour in stock and season with salt and pepper to taste. Bring the broth to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer and cook for about 45 or when all vegetables are soft.

Ladle broth and vegetables into food processor and puree until smooth. If you can't fit it all into food processor at once do it bit by bit, transferring puree to a large bowl until you've worked through all the broth.

Put puree back in pot on stove over medium heat. Add cream and heat through.

(Original recipe calls for cooling soup in the fridge before eating but I liked it better hot.)


LindsayC said...

Ooh, I love Vouvray! And I have the Silver Spoon Cookbook, but so far have only made pesto. (I wonder if pesto has a high GI?)

I made a resolution yesterday to cut way back on my sugar intake, and then Girl Scout cookies came today.

I ate 5. Epic fail. Off to the Y with me!

Emily said...

Pesto is fine, I'm making a crazy zucchini pesto thing Wednesday from the Silver Spoon that if I don't write about I'll be sure to point you towards.

I hear you about the temptations. Darn Girl Scouts anyway.